Monday, November 3, 2008

Food For Your 30-Day Challenge

The Bikram Fitzroy November 30-day challenge (now that's a mouthful!) is now four days in and I think that after yesterday's efforts we all have to say - wow! For those who don't know, four lovely ladies yesterday completed their own challenge which was to complete five classes in one day. That's 7.5 hours of sweaty yoga! And I thought I was doing well to do the occasional two classes in one day! Before you shake your head at their craziness, they had a very good reason.

This month the entire studio is banding together to raise money for a little girl with cerebral palsy. She is the daughter of one of our teachers and the money raised can enable the family to take a trip to Germany for some advanced stem cell treatment. To show their support and at the same time meet a personal challenge, many Bikram Fitzroy students have committed to 30 straight days of Yoga, and are raising sponsorship money by meeting their commitment each day. Some people have chosen their own personal challenge, and the 'day-of-five-classes' was just one such challenge. So whether you're spending dusk till dawn in the yoga studio, or whether you're committing to one extra class each week, or if you are indeed going the whole hog and doing the 30-day challenge, congratulations! Your efforts are certainly appreciated and I'm pretty sure your body will thank you as well.

Part of completing a 30-day challenge is knowing that you have put steps in place to get the most out of your yoga journey. Although 30 days of yoga is definitely a positive journey, it is also a stressful one in many ways. Remember that stress can be good or bad. In this case we hope it's a good stress, but if you neglect to adequately fuel and hydrate your body then you could find that you end up with feelings of lethargy, moodiness, and frustration at your body's inability to function at its best. 90 minutes a day in a 38 degree heated room is certainly great for your body and soul, but only if you give that body the nutritional tools it needs to manage the process.

What To Eat During Your 30-Day Challenge
  • Directly after you finish each class of your 30-day challenge is not really the best time to eat. For an hour or so after class you should be focusing on enjoying that sensation of calm as well as the personal satisfaction of checking another 'x' on the white board. But sooner or later, hunger will kick in. There are four things to keep in mind when choosing post-class foods:
    1. You have worked hard, your muscles and liver have been depleted of ready energy, and they need to be refueled. Muscles (and indeed every cell in your body) demand protein in order to aid recovery and optimise your metabolic function. Now is a really great time to eat some protein that can be easily digested and shuttled speedily into your poor tired muscle cells. Anything 'soft' is easy to digest. Scrambled or poached eggs are one of my favourite post-class options, as is a good quality meal replacement shake. Myself along with Michael, Jo Harvey (studio teacher) and many of my clients are all fans of the Isagenix IsaLean shakes. They're organically based, contain essential fats, vegetable based carbs, and easy-to-digest whey protein. They are ideal for after class, and will fill you up without making you feel nauseous or heavy. The IsaLean shakes are actually part of a fantastic 30-day detox program. You can read my personal journal of the detox here. Or contact me here to find out more.
    2. If you are hoping to shed some stored body fat during your 30-day challenge then keeping starchy carbohydrate to a minimum is recommended. This includes pasta, bread, cereals and grains (even wholegrain), as well as rice and indeed any sugar-based food like sweets or fruit-juices. The reason for this is that these foods spike blood sugar levels, promoting excessive insulin release and a fat-storing reaction. You can read all about what insulin does here in a recent article I wrote. Having said that, your first meal after class is the best time to enjoy these sort of foods if you particularly enjoy them. This is because of those depleted muscle and liver cells. In your post-class state, eating starchy or sugary foods will still cause a blood glucose climb, but the resulting insulin release will shuttle blood sugar and other nutrients straight to where they're needed for energy rather than storing them in your fat cells.
    3. This does not mean you MUST eat these sort of foods, but your body does need a balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates in order to adequately refuel and ensure lasting energy after class. We've already talked about protein, and indeed the IsaLean shakes (which, within the 30-day program contain 242 different nutrients) I mentioned do contain everything you need, but other (non-starchy) carbohydrate options include fresh vegetables, salads or legumes. Try to vary the vegetables and salads you eat in order to optimise nutritional variety. Eating the same meal day in day out could mean that you are limiting your vitamin and mineral intake and therefore slowing your energy and performance. Fruit is also okay straight after class but be wary of eating it on its own as it could cause an energy crash later in the day.
    4. Fats: This deserves an entire section of it's own, and indeed I've written an earlier post within this blog that you can refer to for more knowledge on good vs bad fats. A balanced post-yoga meal needs to include some good fats - anywhere form 15 to 30% of that meal should be fat based. My favourite options are avocado, extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, milk or cream. Flaxseed oil is also a nice oil that can be used as a salad or vegie dressing. Fish oil capsules are okay as long as they are mercury free, but a couple of capsules each day will definitely not meet your fat needs.
  • How about the rest of the day? The advice I've just given you in points 1-4 is an excellent basis for creating a balanced meal for anytime of day that is not directly before or after class. As mentioned, a meal to optimise your overall wellbeing and energy throughout the 30-day challenge should ideally include proteins, fats and carbs. The main difference if it's not post class is that you don't have a need for readily digestible energy. Therefore these meals are a good time to enjoy a nice steak once or twice each week, some chicken thigh or breast (thigh is better for more complete nutrition and energy), some fresh fish, or even some game meat if you're feeling, well, game. The same rules as above apply for fats and carbohydrates, although I'd recommend minimising starchy and sugary carbs if weight management is a concern. Vegetarians can enjoy legumes, fermented soy products such as tempeh or miso (organic please!), and even the whey protein shakes mentioned above (these have been proven fine for those with gluten, soy and lactose intolerance also).
  • Another major concern for those on the 30-day challenge is electrolytes, and wouldn't you know it, I already have an article there for you as well! It's in the August files of this blog and you can read it here.
I hope I've answered your questions (even for those who maybe did not have them!) on what to eat during your 30-day challenge, and I'd love to hear your feedback as well as any more specific queries you may have. Please get involved in the comments section of this blog (it's at the end of each article), or contact me here.

To read more of my writing on this and other topics, visit my main blog:

Here is the link for the Isagenix 30-day detox
(Or talk to me about it directly)

One more important thing! Those who are sticking to their 30-day challenge today must be given an extra pat on the back! It is, after all, Melbourne Cup Day, and I don't think there are many melbournites who aren't out there drinking it up, so an extra well done to those who continue to pursue their personal journey on this day.

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.



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DPHC said...

Thank you so much! This article is very useful, I’m trying to achieve a 60 day challenge in Chile. I have a lot of food allergies but I will adapt my diet with your tips! Thank you very much 😊🙏